Fostering A Love For Handwriting In Kids


In an increasingly digital world, teaching children handwriting may seem antiquated. However, research shows that handwriting is still an important skill for kids to learn. Mastering handwriting has been linked to improved cognition, literacy, and fine motor skills. Taking the time to foster a love for handwriting in kids can set them up for success in school and beyond.

Handwriting requires different brain processes than typing on a keyboard. The motor skills utilized when handwriting reinforce learning in young children. Their literacy skills build as they learn letter shapes and spell words out by hand. Writing letters and words connects reading and writing ability. Overall, handwriting lays a foundation for cognitive development and academic achievement.

While digital devices have their place, handwriting should not be lost as an essential skill. Nurturing a love for handwriting provides kids with a tool for expression and a pathway to success.

Fine Motor Skills

Developing fine motor skills through handwriting helps kids gain strength and dexterity in their hands and fingers. Fine motor skills include small, precise movements using the hands and fingers. According to the Fine Motor Development Chart, children begin developing basic fine motor skills like grasping objects between 0-3 months old. Between 6-12 months they advance to skills like turning pages in a book. From age 1-2 years they gain abilities like scribbling, stacking blocks, and turning doorknobs. Handwriting activities help reinforce these fine motor milestones.

As children practice writing letters and numbers, they build finger muscles and coordination. This aids with tasks like holding utensils, buttoning clothes, tying shoes, and more. The repetitive motions of writing letters strengthens the muscles and motor pathways needed for other fine motor activities. Handwriting practice from a young age prepares kids for success in basic self-care and academic skills that require dexterity.

Brain Development

Multiple studies demonstrate that the hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills required in handwriting offer unique cognitive benefits and brain activation. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans show that when children write by hand, neural activity increases in the brain’s reading and writing networks located in the left fusiform gyrus and inferior frontal regions. This leads to improved letter recognition and reading fluency (

The physical process of forming letters, words and sentences leads to more rapid letter identification and improved retention compared to simply looking at letters on a page. This demonstrates the importance of early handwriting experience in wiring the brain for successful reading (

Handwriting also involves the use of fine motor skills and touching pen or pencil to paper, providing tactile input from fingertips to the brain. This helps solidify the neural pathways for recognizing letters, words and their meanings (

Letter Recognition

Handwriting helps children recognize letters by engaging the visual and tactile senses in a unique way. Tracing letters and shapes by hand reinforces the brain’s memory and stimulates areas related to reading, which can strengthen literacy skills. According to research from the National Library of Medicine, the sensorimotor experience of handwriting supports letter perception and production which facilitates reading acquisition. Studies have shown that handwriting experience is more beneficial for letter learning than non-handwriting learning methods.

Writing letters by hand requires visual recognition and motor memory of the letters’ shapes, which aids in identifying and remembering them. The repetitive practice of handwriting letters and words builds neural pathways in the brain that support letter identification and word formation. This motor experience and visual connection helps young children translate print into meaning as they are learning to read. Handwriting reinforces the relationship between letters, sounds and words on the page.


One key benefit of handwriting over typing is improved retention and comprehension when taking notes by hand. Studies have shown that students who take notes by hand have better recall and more conceptual understanding compared to those who take notes on a laptop (1). The process of handwriting engages more cognitive resources and forces the brain to actively process information, leading to stronger memory encoding and recall (2).

According to one study published in Psychological Science, students who took notes by hand performed significantly better on conceptual questions compared to those who typed notes, even when allowed to study the notes beforehand (3). The unique kinetic experience of writing by hand creates a “functional activation” in brain regions associated with thinking, memory, and language (4). Handwriting helps transform lecture content into a learner’s own words, which improves learning and integration.

Overall, the research demonstrates that handwriting notes leads to improved comprehension and retention compared to typed notes. The cognitive benefits of handwriting appear especially important when learning new concepts or material that requires deep understanding. Educators and parents should consider these advantages when guiding students’ note-taking methods.


Individual Expression

Handwriting allows children to develop their own individual style and personal expression. Unlike typing or printing which has a uniform appearance, cursive writing can have many stylistic variations. The way letters are shaped and connected can vary widely between individuals. This allows children to put their own creative mark on their handwriting.

Cursive writing, in particular, provides many opportunities for individual expression. The fluid strokes of cursive allow for each writer to connect letters in their own way and develop their own handwriting rhythm. Variables like slant, spacing, shapes of loops and connecting strokes give cursive a distinctly personal flair. This can help build a sense of ownership and pride in one’s work.

Research shows that the self-expression afforded by handwriting boosts motivation, engagement, and even self-esteem in developing writers. Allowing kids to cultivate their own handwriting style gives their work a unique signature that reflects their personality. Rather than conforming to a standardized print or typeface, handwriting enables creative individuality.

As an article from The National Education Association notes, cursive writing improves brain functional specialization and allows for self-expression and individuality. Cursive and handwriting in general enable children to put their personal mark on their work.

Implementing Handwriting Practice

Making handwriting practice fun and engaging is key to helping kids develop a love for writing by hand. According to The OT Toolbox, activities that get kids up and moving while practicing writing letters and words can make it a more rewarding experience ( For example, have kids practice writing letters with their finger in a tray of sand or flour. The tactile feedback can make writing more enjoyable. Let kids write using glow sticks in a dark room or outside at night for a unique twist. What Do We Do All Day? recommends writing on different surfaces like sidewalks with chalk or windows with dry erase markers to add variety ( Making writing practical by having kids create grocery lists, thank you notes or birthday cards also makes the skill seem more useful and rewarding in daily life.

The Importance of Balancing Digital and Handwriting Skills

In today’s digital age, it’s important for students to develop competency with technology and keyboarding skills. However, completely replacing handwriting with typing can be detrimental. Studies show the cognitive benefits of handwriting lead to improved academic performance across subjects ( A balanced approach is ideal, incorporating both handwriting and typing at appropriate stages.

Handwriting should be focused on in early elementary school to build critical fine motor and literacy skills. Research shows letter formation through handwriting improves letter recognition and leads to better reading and writing abilities ( Around 3rd-5th grade is a good time to introduce typing skills, while still reinforcing handwriting. By middle school, students can transition to more typing for lengthier assignments. However, continuing handwriting practice a few times a week maintains those lifelong benefits. Educators should aim to strike the right balance for students to excel both digitally and manually.

Overcoming Resistance

Some students may be resistant to practicing handwriting, especially if they struggle with it or find it boring. There are several effective ways to encourage participation and make handwriting practice more appealing:

Make it fun by incorporating games or activities that incorporate writing letters, words or sentences. For example, playing games that have a handwriting component can make the task more enjoyable. Changing up writing implements (markers, gel pens, chalk on sidewalk, etc.) can also make writing more exciting.

Connect writing to their interests by having students write about subjects they are passionate about, or by incorporating handwriting into activities related to their hobbies. Writing letters to friends and family can also increase engagement.

Use positive reinforcement when they do participate, and avoid scolding or punishment if they are reluctant. Provide just the right amount of encouragement and praise.

Focus on improvement, not perfection. Celebrate small successes and milestones to build confidence.

Allow some autonomy by giving a choice of writing prompts or tools. This can increase their sense of control.

Make sure to take short breaks during long writing tasks to prevent fatigue, frustration or boredom from setting in.

Incorporate multisensory techniques like writing letters with clay, Wikki Stix, or in sand/shaving cream. The novel textures can increase interest.

Overall, maintaining a sense of fun, providing the right supports, connecting writing to their interests, and praising effort are key ways to overcome resistance. With patience and creativity, you can nurture their enjoyment of writing.


As we’ve discussed, teaching children handwriting has many developmental benefits beyond just learning the mechanics of letter formation. Handwriting encourages critical thinking, activates the brain, builds fine motor skills, promotes literacy, and provides a creative outlet for self-expression. By taking the time to nurture this ability in kids, we are setting them up for success in school and beyond.

While digital devices have their place in learning, parents and teachers shouldn’t overlook the importance of putting pen to paper. Carve out time each day for writing practice by having kids copy letters, words, or sentences. Make it fun by using engaging prompts, colored pens, or unique paper. Be patient and celebrate progress. Remind children that their unique handwriting style is a reflection of themselves. With consistent, positive reinforcement, they can master and take pride in this foundational skill.

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